By Paul Ejime
ECOWAS leaders are holding another extraordinary summit Saturday on Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, three countries under military rule within the 15-nation regional bloc.
The Accra summit will either modify or rubber stamp political transition timetables set by the recalcitrant juntas, which seized power from elected civilians and are calling the shots in the three nations.
The three countries have been suspended from ECOWAS, with Mali under the severest sanctions, including financial squeeze, travel bans and border blockade.
The Col Assimi Goita-led Bamako junta has proposed a 24-month programme after reneging on a previous 18-month timeline.
The government of his counterpart in Guinea, Col Mamady Doumbouya has unveiled a 36-month transition programme, while Lt.-Col Paul-Henri Damiba of Burkina Faso has proposed 36 months’ programme to handover.
Other African countries in manifest political conflicts include Sudan and Chad, which are also under military rule.
Also troubled are Somalia, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Libya and Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union. The Addis Ababa government has since November 2020 been battling the separatists in Tigray region, with the attendant losses of human lives and severe humanitarian crisis.
The ECOWAS Accra summit comes on the heels of Friday’s meeting in Russia between President Vladimir Putin and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall, the African Union Chair, on the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is now 100 days’ old, and the endless punitive sanctions against Moscow by the US and its EU allies, have unleashed crippling economic hardships on the World, from high oil/gas and energy prices to worsening food shortages.
Russia and Ukraine account for between 40% and 60% of wheat supply to some African countries including Senegal.
But Ukrainian exports cannot pass through Russia occupied territories, and Moscow insists that Western sanctions must be lifted first.
Sall reportedly raised the food question with Putin.
Africa’s economic and political problems, already compounded by the global Covid-19 health pandemic can only get worse with the food crisis.
But it is the continent’s bad, corrupt, greedy and selfish leaders that are largely to blame.
Otherwise, Africa is blessed with abundant resources, including vast arable land for agriculture. It should be self-sufficient and exporting food instead of depending on imports from abroad.